Tag: hollywood movies
Wednesday 27 April was Administrative Professionals’ Day, formerly National Secretaries Day – an annual celebration begun in the US in 1952. A heavily gendered date, it is traditionally an opportunity for florists and chocolatiers. But this year, a movie grabbed a slice of the pie. That movie was Ghostbusters, the forthcoming reboot of the beloved supernatural comedy that sees Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon don the jumpsuits once worn by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson.
In Ivan Reitman’s 1984 original, the secretary was Janine: goggle glasses, pixie cut, questionable telephone manner (“Waddya want?”). In Paul Feig’s version, it’s Kevin: a ditzy blond hired for his hunkiness not his shorthand. The clips released to coincide with Administrative Professionals’ Day – Kevin baffled by the phone, botching the tea run, eagerly drafting inappropriate logos (think busty ghosts) – brilliantly showcase the gender flip that is one of the movie’s key USPs.
The step-change can still leave you giddy. Twelve months ago, Chris Hemsworth, the actor who plays Kevin, was in every multiplex as Thor, he of the unreconstructed chivalry and massive mallet. Off screen, we were still in the early days of the gender inequality debate – sparked the previous winter by the revelation that Jennifer Lawrence was paid less than her American Hustle co-stars, and stoked by Patricia Arquette, who called for pay parity in her Oscar acceptance speech.
The debate faded a little as other industry inequalities took the spotlight, but it still smoulders on, , and reignited recently by Daniel Radcliffe and Scarlett Johansson. “The thing I can’t help but think,” said Radcliffe, “is what guy is sitting in a studio somewhere thinking, ‘Let’s fuck the girls out of some money?’” New studies revealed only one in five European films is directed by a woman – and all movies being made by two major Hollywood studios (Sony and Paramount) over the next two years will be directed by men.
Yet the schedules tell a different story: although most women may still be getting a rough deal backstage, at the cinema, female films are front-and-centre. Not just that. These are female-led films that don’t just feature women mopping up after one another’s heartbreaks, but exploring their own careers and, crucially, their friendships with each other.
So we have the return of Bolly bezzies Edwina and Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie; Tina Fey and Margot Robbie bonding beneath the bombs in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot; Kate Beckinsale and Chloë Sevigny cackling happily in Love & Friendship, Greta Gerwig snuggling with one-time love-rival Julianne Moore in Maggie’s Plan; Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell swapping horror stories in Bad Moms, and Bell (again) enjoying a slow-burn buddy-up with Melissa McCarthy (again) in The Boss.
That final film opened in the US a month ago. Despite tepid reviews, it still proved victorious over Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice at the box office. Tina Fey can get a farce set in a contemporary warzone greenlit. McCarthy has star wattage enough to put even superheroes in the shade.
The mother of these major summer movies is, of course, Ghostbusters. Anticipation for that reached fever pitch months ago, around the release of its first trailer, which has now been seen more than 60m times. This is a movie on which much rides. Its success would be a game-changer. Its failure would turn back the clock on much of the progress made so far.
So who ya gonna call to find out how this kind of responsibility feels? Down the line from Los Angeles, Feig doesn’t sound too fussed. He has been here before, after all: with box office-crushing Bridesmaids (2011) – still the best-performing Judd Apatow movie (he produced it) – and then at two-yearly intervals with The Heat (2013), the first truly funny female buddy cop movie, and Spy (2015), in which McCarthy out-ballsed James Bond.
Yes, Feig says, “managing and meeting and exceeding expectations” is a challenge. “But I would hope we weren’t being made the test case for whether women can star in tentpoles or not. That kind of litmus test just wouldn’t be fair to women. If a movie starring a man comes out and bombs, people just think the movie didn’t work. They don’t say: “‘Oh, well, OK! No more men in movies!’”
But the fact that the film business does still react like this stems, he thinks, from its creation of a mythology to support the status quo. “Which is: men won’t go to see these movies starring women. Hollywood’s always looking for a way to get out of a risky situation and if people are still considering movies starring women to be risky – well, that’s very unfair to the women.”
When he was starting out, Feig says, he would pitch a project with a female lead, only to be told it wasn’t an option because: “Men won’t go see that movie, and in foreign markets movies with women don’t do so well.” The only way to refute this, he says, was to prove them wrong. “It’s one thing to say there should be more great roles for women, but if you don’t create them it’s all lip-service. You gotta put your money where your mouth is and actually do it. Everybody in positions of power – especially men but women too – has gotta step up.”
The venom behind some of the reaction to the new Ghostbusters casting could be seen to confirm a sense that some men simply aren’t interested in stories about the opposite sex. Last year, Feig called some of the comments “vile, misogynistic shit”; today, he questions the relevance of that backlash. The bigger problem, he thinks, lies with the internet – “which puts a small minority of voices into a sort of bullhorn” – and the media, which amplify this negativity. “It makes me sad that informs every article now. There’s always some comment about how people are down on it. Well, somebody is down on everything. It’s very easy once you’re predisposed to be pissed about something to watch it and find fault.”
Plus, people are conditioned by what they see on screen. There is a duty to broaden that scope and try to persuade people out of such prejudice. “Hollywood has created a situation in which women come off as bad or subservient or unlikable or boring because those are the roles written for them. What character looks great telling the hero that he shouldn’t be saving the world, that he should be spending more time with his family? Nobody!
Related Link: View the full Production Notes for Ghostbuster 2016
“People Like Us” was filmed entirely in Los Angeles and the surrounding area. Instead of iconic landmarks and tourist attractions, the locations the filmmakers chose were more grassroots, hometown Los Angeles—the L.A. most tourists never see. As producer Bobby Cohen explains, “There is something special about shooting in real locations. There is a texture to them that you can’t rebuild. It makes a difference. That had been one of Alex’s [Kurtzman, director] main things from the get-go—he wanted to shoot the parts of L.A. that don’t normally get attention.”
Continues Cohen, “We’re not shooting the tourists’-eye view of L.A. As a born New Yorker, it’s been fun shooting in more offbeat neighborhoods. Alex intuitively understands the moods of these places and has done a very good job of capturing those moods on film.”
Director Alex Kurtzman comments, “I’m a native Los Angeleno and my city is not the glitzy, cliched Los Angeles that I feel like I see on screen in other films. I felt strongly about representing the L.A. that was the story of the movie and was one that others had never seen.”
One of the scenes in the film was shot at Rhino Records, one of the oldest record stores still in existence, and famed Hollywood High School became the setting for the Toluca Park Middle School. Old-time eateries Henry’s Tacos, Cole’s French Dip and Neptune’s Net were featured to lend authentic L.A. flavor—no pun intended.
Shooting in real locations, such as the houses, restaurants, schools and churches used in the film, presents challenges for lighting—walls cannot be moved and there are usually not high ceilings to accommodate the lights. But director of photography Sal Totino was a genius at coming up with simple, yet elegant ways to light the film that did not sacrifice the high quality of the filming.
Director Alex Kurtzman relates, “To Sal Totino, it isn’t about what’s the most beautiful lighting scheme. It’s about: how is this frame telling the emotional story of the characters? That’s the first question that he asks. He translates an emotion beautifully. I can’t imagine ever working with anyone else.”
Production designer Ida Random brought a very real look to the film, as if the audience were actually brought into the living room of a familiar house. Without overdoing the production design, Random was able to create an intimacy and comfort level that draws the viewers in, but never visually bores them.
Much of the music business memorabilia in the “Jerry’s Study” set belongs to Jody Lambert’s father Dennis Lambert, a Songwriters Hall of Fame nominee whose hits as writer and/or producer include “Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I Got) “, “Rhinestone Cowboy”, “Baby Come Back” and “Nightshift.” Lambert showed production designer Ida Random a storage unit full of his father’s memorabilia and she used it in the set, including photographs of Dennis Lambert himself and his actual Gold records.
Costume designer Mary Zophres continued the “real” look with her choice of clothing for the characters and the extras. Zophres says, “It’s not the kind of movie where you want the clothes to be front and center. They tell the story of who the characters are and then you move on. You shouldn’t be aware of the clothes. They should just sort of tell the story and go away.”
In dressing Chris Pine’s character Sam, Zophres had him in an expensive suit that is above his means at the start of the film, but when he goes to L.A. he only packs casual clothes for what he thinks is a 48-hour stay: two pairs of jeans, three T-shirts, a jacket and two button down plaid shirts.
For Elizabeth Banks’ character Frankie, Zophres chose a leather jacket that she wears a lot in the beginning of the movie. Then as the story progresses, she loses the jacket as her character evolves. The subtle shift in costuming was deliberate to parallel the storyline.
In dressing Michelle Pfeiffer’s character Lillian, Zophres took into account that the character had cared for her dying husband for some time and probably lost some weight without knowing it, thus she dressed her in slightly looser clothes.
Zophres was also very aware of the background costuming. “The background helps tell the story. We’ve had very specific scenes where there should be a look to where were, like we were at Cole’s downtown versus The Standard. Those are two hugely different looks. One is an old diner and the other is a trendy nightclub. You reveal those two places through how you dress the people in the background. It is a very important element to me.”
Related Link: View the Full Production Notes for People Like Us
Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice plunged an estimated 68 percent in its second weekend — one of the biggest drops in history for a superhero title — even as it easily stayed No. 1. The Warner Bros. title earned $52.4 million from 4,256 theaters, less than anticipated, for a domestic total of $261.5 million. Final weekend numbers will be tallied Monday.
Heading into the weekend, some analysts thought BvS would pull in north of $60 million, considering it had little competition (no new major studio titles opened nationwide). Warners and Snyder have plenty riding on BvS, which launches the DC cinematic universe, including two Justice League movies — the first of which Snyder is presently shooting — and this summer’s Suicide Squad.
Related: ‘Superman,’ The Inside Story: Director Richard Donner Remembers Meeting Stallone to Play the Lead, Working With Brando, and a Near-Fatal Knife Attack
BvS is also seeing big drops in some key international markets. Overall, its Friday haul of $19.2 million from 67 markets was down 72 percent from Friday a week ago. The tentpole’s decline in China was a hefty 87 percent, and 77 percent in the U.K.
Dismal reviews and a B CinemaScore are no doubt catching up with the superhero smackdown, which teams Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) on the big screen for the first time.
As a way of comparison, Avengers: Age of Ultron fell 59 percent in its second weekend and The Dark Knight, 53 percent. The only major studio superhero movie to see a decline approaching 70 percent was X-Men Origins: The Wolverine, which fell 69 percent in its second outing. And recent superhero entry Deadpool feel 57 percent to $56.4 million, while Snyder’s Man of Steel dipped 65 percent.
Some industry observers suggest a decline of 70 percent is acceptable. They note that blockbuster Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 actually tumbled 72 percent in its second weekend, while The Twilight Saga: The New Moon slipped 70 percent. Both movies were fan-driven and hence front-loaded. Nor were they weren’t considered four-quadrant movies.
The legend impacted multiple generations
In its more than 40-year history, one that has impacted multiple generations, “Star Trek” has carved out an iconic place in modern pop culture as the only ongoing story that encapsulates the awe, wonder and bold audacity of the human desire to reach for the stars. With the indelible opening words of the original 1960s television series, “Space, the Final Frontier,” a succession of journeys were launched across the cosmos that did and, to this day, still celebrate the thrill of adventure, the pioneering spirit of exploration and the drive to create an ever-more amazing future full of possibilities. The daring and provocative voyages of the Starship Enterprise, and the many ships that would soon follow in her flight path, have appealed to the stargazer in all of us, and our hopes and dreams that technological and cultural advances will bring out the best of our humanity.
The original TV series was not a hit when it first aired, but later caught on like wildfire among the ever-growing legion of fans who responded to its compellingly funny, contentious, charismatic personalities and its five-year mission to peacefully engage new worlds and cultures. But how did that mission begin? What brought together this disparate group of brash, brilliant, ambitious young men and women and drove them to explore new frontiers? And how did they forge that special chemistry and sense of purpose that would inspire so many discoveries and fantastic adventures for years and even centuries to come?
For director / producer J.J. Abrams, going back to the beginning after more than six television series and ten feature films was the only way to forge into the future. His vision was to literally start fresh, beginning with James T. Kirk and his one-day First Officer, the Vulcan Spock’s advancement in the placePlaceNameStarfleet PlaceTypeAcademy and their extraordinary first journey together.
Abrams came to the project with great respect for series creator Gene Roddenberry and all that “Star Trek” had achieved as the creator of an archetypal modern myth and cult phenomenon. However, he also wanted to take the story where it had never been before: making a state-of-the-art action epic about two heroic leaders as brash young men in the making.
“I was a fan of the original series, although I was never a Trekker,” says Abrams. “Yet I always felt there was something that had not been done with `Star Trek.’ There have been ten movies, but this is the first time that a movie has dealt with the fundamental, primary story Gene Roddenberry originally created in 1966.” Abrams continues: “What I hope with this movie is that you never have to have seen anything about `Star Trek’ before to really enjoy a comical, romantic, suspenseful adventure, but that it also does proud the lasting, brilliant world that Gene Roddenberry created. The brilliant thing `Star Trek’ brought to the world was a dose of optimism and I hope this movie continues in that tradition.”
While many anticipated a total re-boot from Abrams, he was excited to go in an unexpected direction, heading way back, as it were, into the never-seen 23rd century launch of the U.S.S. Enterprise. When he brought the idea of a “’Star Trek’ origin story” to producer Damon Lindelof, with whom Abrams (along with Jeffrey Lieber) created the contemporary television phenomenon “Lost,” the producer was instantly taken by the idea.
Explains Lindelof, “For me, the idea that no one has ever told an origin story for Kirk and Spock and all these characters was very cool. We had a great conversation about how this crew of people might have come together and learned to sacrifice certain parts of their personalities to get along. It was really fun and, next thing I knew, Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman were writing a script.”
A fan of “Star Trek” since childhood, Lindelof believes the story’s premise and characters have continued to be so relevant for so long because they capture something essential about the space travel mythos: the sheer hopefulness of it. “Most stories we see now about the distant future are bleak, dismal and dystopian. The incredible thing about the initial `Star Trek’ television series is that it was so energetic, optimistic and cool. It presented the future the way we’d like to believe it will unfold. It’s a future to aim for.”
That view, he felt, was a great match for Abrams’ exuberant style of character-and-action-driven storytelling. “J.J. brings innovation to everything he does, but also brings an ability to boil a story down to its most human elements and translate hugely complicated production challenges into something with mass appeal, and that was all necessary to go back to the beginning of `Star Trek’ with today’s cinematic technology,” says Lindelof.
Adds executive producer Bryan Burk, who has also collaborated with Abrams on “Lost,” “Alias” and “Cloverfield”: “We envisioned this `Star Trek’ as a truly grand adventure about two very different men whose destiny is not only to become true friends, but iconic partners, guardians and explorers.”
Executive producer Jeffrey Chernov, who oversaw the line production, concludes: “The film for me became not only a new look at the `Star Trek’ universe, but a kind of cross between `The Right Stuff’ and the original `Star Wars.’ It has that fresh, imaginative, intergalactic storytelling, but is also very grounded in the idea of young men and women with a lot of heart and camaraderie. When you add J.J.’s mastery of action and love of scope, you have something very fun and entertaining.”
When it came to costumes for the Muppets, costume designer Rahel Afiley had her work cut out for her. “The biggest challenge was proportion of the Muppet body,” says Afiley. “Even if you design something that looks good on a person, it doesn’t mean it will look good on a Muppet. You have to keep in mind how much detail there is in the outfit, because if you have too much, it just takes over. If you have too little or if it’s below the waist, the detail is lost since the Muppets are only shown from the waist up.”
According to Afiley, fabric selection is critical in designing costumes for the Muppets. Lightweight fabrics aid in the ease of maneuverability of the Muppets. The costume designer also considered how each fabric would lay on the Muppet’s felt “skin.” And though cost was certainly a consideration, the needs of the scene were always top of mind. “We didn’t skimp on the quality of the fabric,” she says. “Miss Piggy has a jacket made of cashmere that cost 300 dollars a yard.”
True to her character, Miss Piggy was the biggest wardrobe challenge due to the quantity of costumes she required as well as her role as editor of Vogue Paris. Says Afiley, “James [Bobin] and I are not really into trends. We both love classic looks, and it was really important to us to bring Piggy back to how she was in the early Muppets.
“If you watch old movies,” Afiley continues, “you can take an outfit worn by someone like Audrey Hepburn that could easily be worn on the red carpet today. That was my inspiration for Miss Piggy’s fashions.”
To dress a fashionista like Miss Piggy, Afiley called on notable designers like Christian Louboutin, who designed a pair of glitter platform stiletto heels complete with the Louboutin signature red bottom. “We sent him a picture of the potential outfit the shoes would be worn with and he designed a custom creation based on that,” says Afiley.
Zac Posen was also tapped, designing a signature dress for the diva. Says Afiley, “I felt it should be a vintage-inspired gown.” The result? A spectacular Posen-designed gown in lavender that was used in the film’s finale.
Miss Piggy wasn’t the only Muppet who captured the attention of the fashion world. Kermit was dressed by the high-class men’s fashion house Brooks Brothers, which was already involved in the film—providing much of Chris Cooper’s wardrobe as well as tuxedos for other cast members. The Brooks Brothers design was worn by Kermit in the scene when he and Piggy walk the streets of Paris together.
Walter proved a fun challenge for the costume designer. The first task was to establish the newest Muppet’s character, and Bobin was convinced a powder-blue suit would do the trick, says Afiley. “Walter is like a proper little man, and James felt that the powder-blue suit represented this manly personality.” Brother Gary donned a similar suit for the film’s early travel scene, which helped showcase their attachment to each other.
Afiley had a clear vision for costumes for both Amy Adams and Jason Segel: timeless and classic. Because Segel is so tall, vintage clothes were hard to find for him because they tend to run small. “We literally went from thrift store to thrift store looking for his clothes,” says Afiley. While Gary’s character goes through an evolution in film, so did his attire. “He kind of grows up and evolves,” says the costume designer. “He transforms into a more mature person and we tried to reflect that in his wardrobe.”
According to Afiley, small-town girl Mary had to have clothing that wasn’t too trendy. “In the opening number, I wanted Amy to stand out and, because it was such a happy number, I wanted her outfit to reflect that. The yellow skirt was definitely a strategic choice to represent the happy world she came from.”
Mary’s wardrobe was to reflect her positive attitude across the board. The catch? Afiley was assembling the wardrobe during autumn months. “Everything in the stores was black, brown and gray,” says Afiley, “so we decided to go the vintage route. I designed all of her dresses with a vintage inspiration and then we found vintage fabric.” And like Gary, Mary’s character evolution inspired her wardrobe, says Afiley, who dressed the actress in a sophisticated look for the finale.
Related Link: Read the Full Production Notes for The Muppets Movie
Since “The Muppet Show” began in 1976, the Muppets have been embraced by audiences worldwide. What began with a single appearance from an unknown frog puppet became a global phenomenon that is still going strong 35 years later.
Early Muppet appearances date back to the mid-1950s, when a primitive version of Kermit the Frog began the American sensation by appearing on “Afternoon, Footlight Theater” and “Sam and Friends” in 1955. A year later, a revised version of Kermit appeared on national television on “The Steve Allen Show.”
Later, Rowlf the Dog was created for a Purina Dog Chow ad in 1962 and then began making regular appearances on “The Jimmy Dean Show” in 1963. Gonzo was next with his first appearance in “The Great Santa Claus Switch” as the “Cigar Box Frackle” in 1970, later appearing as the Gonzo we know today on “The Muppet Show” in 1976.
Throughout the 1960s, Muppets also made appearances on dozens of nationally broadcast variety shows including “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Their first international exposure came on Canadian television with the airing of the special “Hey Cinderella!” in 1970. By 1971, the Muppets could be seen on U.K. variety shows, such as those hosted by Tom Jones and Julie Andrews, before making their way to Germany for “The Peter Alexander Show” in 1975.
The first pilot of what would become “The Muppet Show” aired on January 30,1974, and was titled “The Muppets Valentine Show.” After that the characters of Fozzie Bear, Statler & Waldorf, Sam Eagle, Swedish Chef and The Electric Mayhem Band (featuring Dr. Teeth, Animal, Janice, Floyd and Zoot) were created for the second original pilot titled “The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence.”
The show aired on March 19, 1975, and contrary to the scandalous name, the premise of “The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence” was to parody the rise of sex and violence on television with the Muppets performing a pageant based on the seven deadly sins. “The Muppet Show” as we know it officially began in 1976 and was well-received internationally, going on to broadcast in more than 100 countries. The show was in first-run syndication from 1976-1981 on CBS affiliates domestically as well as numerous outlets globally. At its peak “The Muppet Show” was seen by more than 235 million people.
During its run “The Muppet Show” received countless awards, including three Emmys®, and featured guest appearances from the most prominent actors, musicians and public figures of its time. “To me, ‘The Muppet Show’ in that era was a little bit like ‘American Idol’ of the current era,” says executive producer Martin G. Baker. “The day after a new episode, everyone was talking about ‘The Muppet Show.’ It was front-page news: Who was the guest star this week? Who’s coming up next week? It was one of those things everybody talked about.”
After 1981, “The Muppet Show” was repackaged for syndication, airing on various networks, including TNT from 1988-1992, Nickelodeon from 1994-1999 and Odyssey from 1999-2000.
With the success of “The Muppet Show,” the Muppets branched out to the big screen, releasing their first feature film, “The Muppet Movie,” in 1979. The film starred a myriad of actors, including Bob Hope, Cloris Leachman, Steve Martin, Mel Brooks, Richard Pryor and Paul Williams. This impressive list of celebrity cast and cameos became the hallmark of all Muppet films, five of which followed, including “The Great Muppet Caper” (1981), “The Muppets Take Manhattan” (1984), “The Muppet Christmas Carol” (1992), “Muppet Treasure Island” (1996) and “Muppets From Space” (1999). All six films have signature soundtracks that received countless awards, including an Academy Award® nomination for Best Song for “Rainbow Connection” and Best Original Score for “The Muppet Movie.”
In addition to feature films, Muppet mania continued long after “The Muppet Show” went off the air. Many television specials and documentaries featuring the classic Muppet characters have been produced, as well as arena shows of both “The Muppet Show” and “Muppet Babies,” which toured domestically from 1984-1989. Muppet Magazine was published from 1983-1988 and “The Muppets” comic strip was syndicated in U.S. newspapers from the early to mid 1980s. Museum exhibits (“The Art of The Muppets,” “The World of Jim Henson: Muppets, Monsters & Magic,” “The Vision of Jim Henson” and others) featuring Muppet characters toured domestically and internationally from 1980-2001.
Multiple record albums for “The Muppet Show,” “Muppet Babies” and all of the Muppet movies have been released worldwide. Hundreds of Muppet books have also been published around the world since 1976.
Throughout the years the Muppets have also produced numerous public service announcements and have acted as spokespeople for many causes both domestically and internationally, ranging from The National Wildlife Federation, UNICEF and the American Film Institute, to the University of Maryland, the American Library Association and the Better World Society. Kermit regularly appears as a giant balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City.
The Muppets once again reinvented themselves by creating viral videos of the gang performing popular songs. Their first video for “Ode to Joy,” performed by Beaker, appeared on various video-sharing websites in 2008 and received more than 14 million views on YouTube. Their second video, for Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” came out Thanksgiving week in 2009 and received more than 23 million views on YouTube. The video also garnered a People’s Choice Webby Award.
“The Muppets are just your average, everyday dysfunctional family: loud, crazy, odd, silly…total chaos all the time. But that’s okay, because when you get right down to it, we really do care about each other. We believe in each other, and we help make all our dreams come true. And that’s what really matters. Besides, I kinda like weird.” —Kermit the Frog.
Related Link: Read the Full Production Notes for The Muppets Movie
A director known for his visual panache, Roman Polanski assembled a team of highly-creative behind the scenes collaborators including cinematographer Pawel Edelman, and Academy Award-winning production designer Dean Tavoularis and costume designer Milena Canonero.
The brief for his production and costume designers was straightforward. “I wanted realism for the set design and costumes and a contemporary look,” says Polanski. “Those were the two notes I gave Milena and Dean, they don’t need much advice!”
Almost as important as the four characters was the set. Constructed on the sound stages of Bry-sur-Marne on the outskirts of Paris, the set was created by production designer Dean Tavoularis, best known for his collaborations with Francis Ford Coppola on some of the most visually impressive films of the past 40 years including The Godfather trilogy, The Conversation and Apocalypse Now.
Tavoularis designed a floor plan for a set which would be as authentic as possible, where it was possible to walk from one room to another, or to look from one room down the corridor to another, just as one would do in a real apartment. He also designed the apartment so that it would bring an extra dimension to the narrative at key moments. So the bathroom is accessed only by the bedroom which brings a heightened frisson to the scene where Penelope is helping Alan change out of his wet trousers in the bathroom – they have to pass the bed on their way back to the living room.
Tavoularis, who worked with Polanski on The Ninth Gate, had never designed a film of this type, set in one room and with just four characters. “I tried to make it as real as possible. I’m always very concerned about the details of a set because you never know exactly how much the director is going to show, if you’re going to see inside the cupboard or inside the drawer. We had food and other items brought in from New York – and specifically Brooklyn – so that the apartment would be as authentic as possible. I was sure that some things wouldn’t be seen on camera, but I still dressed it properly for the actors. That’s especially important if you’re going to be on the one set for the whole film.”
His efforts certainly paid off. Says John C. Reilly: “When I saw the set, I thought that so much of my work had been done for me. Usually on films, the camera sees what the audience is meant to see so there’s only half a set or if you open a book there’s nothing inside the book…there’s a lot of artifice. But Dean’s set was filled with detail. It was completely realistic down to the strange little knickknacks on the shelves. The kitchen was almost functional. It definitely gave us a sense of place.”
One of the pleasures for the designer, who had almost retired from the film industry and was enjoying a life as a painter until he got the call from Polanski, was working in France. “I hadn’t done a film for a few years and I was astonished by how extraordinary the French craftsmen were. The carpenters, the painters, the prop makers were all of an exceptional caliber.”
Teaming up with Polanski again brought home to the designer just how broad the director‘s talents are. It was often Polanski who would see a way out of a problem, says Tavoularis. “His knowledge encompasses every aspect of filmmaking, from the design to the visual effects. He would know exactly how to explain how to put something right. He gets to the reality and to the core. He’s one of the greatest working directors in the world.”
Related Link: Read full production notes for Roman Polanski’s Carnage
Craig Brewer is known for his distinct aesthetic and vision as seen in his critically-acclaimed films “Hustle & Flow” and “Black Snake Moan.” With a reputation of being a filmmaker who infuses his work with realism, grit and passion, Brewer isn’t afraid to shed light on cultural nuances that are deemed taboo by some. Though not a seemingly obvious choice for a mainstream ‘80s classic, Brewer loved the idea of revisiting a film that had a significant impact on his own life.
“When I was 13, “Footloose” had a profound effect on me and completely rocked my dome,” explains Brewer. “The film had teen rebellion couched in community and a religious storyline that didn’t hit you over the head. I felt that it was truly a story that could be told today and still be relevant, entertaining and essentially still “Footloose,” says Brewer.
Craig Zadan, who was also a producer of the original movie, recognized the significance of the film in current times and also believed that it was something that would still resonate with audiences. “There’s a generation now that would find a whole new meaning in this story,” says Zadan. “The film touches on so many issues that people are dealing with today and, in tandem with the musical elements and the classic nature of the story, it feels very contemporary.”
Brewer and Zadan’s shared sensibility about the film’s timelessness made for a perfect match. “There are many people who could have done a rehash of “Footloose,” but it wouldn’t have been unique, original or fresh. There are many directors out there, but very few filmmakers and Craig Brewer is a true filmmaker.”
Brewer’s vision included telling more of Bomont’s back story, which was a town shaken to the core after losing five of their brightest teens, including Reverend Shaw’s own son. “When Craig and I sat down and talked about the movie, we both knew we wanted to shed some light on the point of view of the parents, since we are both parents of young children,” recalls producer Brad Weston. “We didn’t want it to be just a teen rebellion movie because it’s dealing with loss and the lengths that these parents went to, to try and protect their children.”
To bring audiences inside the emotional state of mind of the community, Craig Brewer begins the film with the tragic car accident. “The decision to start with the car crash gives the audience a sense of the pain that led to the extreme restrictions,” states Zadan. “It’s easier to see, in a compassionate way, that this community was filled with grief-ridden parents trying to protect their children and not just a bunch of conservative religious fanatics.”
Related Link: Read the Full Production Notes for Footloose Movie
1. Mila Kunis – Max Payne
Because you can’t kill ghoulish bad guys in khaki, Mila Kunis brought out the leather when it was time to bring out the big guns.
2. Kate Beckinsale – Underworld Awakening
No, it’s not just because her movie is about to drop. It’s because her leather catsuit-corset combo fits her like a glove. Perhaps ironically, Kate’s hands are the only part of her body below the neck not covered in skin-tight leather.
3. Carrie Anne Moss – The Matrix
You don’t always have to show skin to be sexy in leather. You just need to be handy with a variety of weapons and spout new-age philosophy from time to time. And so we come to Trinity: Sometimes she saved us, sometimes she confused us, but mostly she just aroused us.
4. Kristanna Loken – Terminator: Rise of the Muchines
In the future, hot chicks will be clad entirely in red leather. And, apparently, they will want you dead.
5. Malin Akerman – Watchmen
Because wearing leather isn’t really about subtlety, we love the yellow on Malin Akerman.
The filmmakers hired Aakomon “AJ” Jones, famous for choreographing dance moves for Justin Bieber and Usher, to choreograph Pitch Perfect. Though he was new to choreographing for a cappella groups, Jones’ hip-hop and mainstream dance background was the style the filmmakers felt would blend perfectly with the group performances.
“Aakomon is an amazing choreographer who came to our project with some mandates,” says Banks. “He had to make a cappella seem cool, but he also had to make it realistic. If you watch the actual ICCA finals on YouTube, the kids do amazing choreography. We wanted to make sure that we took people and brought them to the next level. He created choreography that everyone was able to learn. We had a lot of confidence that AJ would know how to break it down for our actors.”
Moore wanted to make sure that the dancing in the movie was not dated. “The songs the guys are singing in the movie are Flo Rida and Rihanna, so we needed something that matched the music that they were singing and not just a lot of snapping and step touching. AJ and his incredible assistant, KYNDRA ‘BINKIE’ REEVEY, were able to come in and take the ideas of a cappella, which is old-school, and make it feel new. Sometimes singing and dancing at the same time is hard, and the actors were each singing a different part while they were dancing. It was a Rubik’s Cube puzzle for them to make everyone look like they could dance together effortlessly while still making the sound with their mouths.”
Jones, Moore, Sharon and Boyer discussed specific points in each scene where dancing would take place and where each character would be staged. Knowing what was happening during the story line and collaborating with the music directors were of the upmost importance. Says Jones: “What’s great about Ed and Deke is that they said that if we felt a certain way about the arrangements, we should give them feedback. On this film, we were able to go directly to the music directors and ask them to make tweaks to some of the sound. They made a first pass of the arrangement and then went back and forth with Jason about the sounds and how it felt. Then they got it to us, and we’d work on it together.”
Jokes Wilson of the choreography: “I felt like they could have used some of my signature moves because I had a lot of moves. I suggested the sprinkler to AJ and Binkie. ‘What about the cancan girl? What about the pancake shake?’ Which is a move I invented. And then they said, ‘We’ve choreographed for Usher so we know what to do.’ I said, ‘Okay, I’m putting my faith in your hands.’ One time they gave us a lesson in how to dance like a stripper. It was traumatic.”
Jones’ background is hip-hop, a genre of dance he felt was perfect for the film’s audience. “That’s the reference that I pulled from, as far as material and vocabulary,” says the choreographer. “Whether it’s a dance that everyone’s doing right now that just hit the streets, or a nod to a cleaner line that would be impressive to the eye on stage, there’s a vast array of styles in the film. There’s hip-hop, a bit of locking, a bit of jazz and some ballet.”
Knapp explains the dance rehearsal process: “After we warmed up, we’d knock right into it. We learned the choreography step-by-step, and it was amazing to see AJ creating it in his head as we went along. The guy’s talented.”
Though none of them were trained professional dancers, Knapp’s fellow actors echo their praises for their choreographer. “AJ is incredible,” sums Camp. “He listened to us and worked with each girl individually as to what her level of dance was. He’s a very patient man.”
Admits DeVine: “I was kind of worried about doing all the dancing because I’m not a dancer at all. But AJ had a lot of confidence in me. He didn’t give me a lot of moves because that would be a lot to remember, but he was encouraging and told me to make some of it up as I went along.”
Brooks was blown away the first time he saw the cast’s performances. “They gave me goose bumps. I found myself singing along and tapping my feet. I’m an Englishman and we’re acutely shy, so for me to even go halfway there is a big thing.”
Related Link: Pitch Perfect Movie Full Production Notes